Take a look at the Beretta A400 Upland and its practical application for the everyday bird hunter.
Using a new shotgun is always an exciting feeling but also somewhat unsettling when putting ol’ reliable aside. For over a decade, I have been chasing chukar with a 12-gauge Benelli M2 semi-auto with a black synthetic stock that has taken a beating over the years. Prior to that, I used a 20-gauge Benelli Nova pump that I won with a few lucky numbers being called out at a Nevada Bighorns Unlimited dinner in the mid-2000s, and before that I used a Remington 870 pump–all of which have earned the title of being reliable shotguns for chasing birds.
I have never used an over/under, or as some say a “two-tuber,” chasing chukar. And I frequently hear from a handful of good buddies that I am missing out. Maybe one day I will make the switch, but it sure wasn’t last chukar season.
During this past chukar season, I was fortunate to chase chukar with the new 12-gauge Beretta A400 Upland semi-auto. My first impression of this new, clean, sleek shotgun was that it was way too nice to beat up hiking (and falling) while chasing devil birds in chukar country. The A400 boasts a recoil reduction system, a wood stock, 28 in. (66cm) Steelium barrel, three-shot tube, and a nickel-plated receiver that includes an upland game scene which unfortunately does not include any chukar–a minor, but immediately visible flaw. The A400 was noticeably light, coming in just over 7 pounds, and felt lighter than my M2 when fully loaded.
Catch the Beretta A400 in Film: Chukar Chasers – A Chukar Hunting Video
According to Beretta the shotgun boasts a 50 percent reduction in recoil using the Kick-Off Plus technology in the wood stock. It also uses the OBF-HP shotgun chokes system which stands for Optimal Bore, Field. The short version of this explanation is that the barrels are back-bored, which Beretta introduced to competition shotguns in 2000 and later to field models. Back-boring means the barrel has a bore diameter larger than stand specification which creates less friction when shot travels down the barrel. The ultimate result is better shot patterns and less deformed pellets.
The setup comes with three chokes, cylinder, modified, and full and is only available in 12-gauge and chambered at 3 in. with an MSRP of $1700. Most retailers seem to be offering it at just under $1600. The length of pull is 14 3/8 inches, but the pad is replaceable to get to proper specs for a shooter who is particular about this aspect of shooting.
Prior to beginning the three days of hunting public lands, I cycled a few low base, target load shotgun shells. I was very pleased with how comortable the A400 is, how smooth it shot and how quickly it cycled through shells. I threw in some high base/brass, 6 shot shells and the hunt began. Although I knew that only three shells would be an adjustment for me in the field, I found myself forgetting this when a covey would rise and after firing three shots I would still take aim at some “sleepers” that would get up late–thinking (wishing) I still had one last shell to cycle through–which I obviously did not.
Each day offered new challenges, but the chukar numbers were strong in the new areas explored and the Beretta A400 Upland remained reliable throughout the hunt. I continued to use the A400 during the chukar season, switching off with the ol’ reliable M2. The only real complaints about the A400 related to chukar not being the upland game of choice on the engraving, and the three-shot tube. However, for all those Chukar Chasers using “two-tubers,” I really don’t have any reason to complain about having an additional shot, do I?
Beretta has always been a proven brand and there is no doubt that if you are in the market for a 12-gauge semiautomatic, this shotgun will not disappoint.
Damon Booth was raised in rural Winnemucca, Nevada where he was fortunate enough to be exposed to the uplands at an early age. He grew up chasing chukar alongside his father and behind some of the best birddogs (as every Chukar Chaser says about his/her birddog) which is why he is committed to passing on the the upland hunting tradition to others, especially youth. He now lives in Reno with his wife and birddog, Rye (his "roommates") and escapes to the outdoors in the rural areas and neighboring states every chance he gets.